Sunday, 20 December 2009

Egyptian Dilemma

I am off for the best part of a month now so today I went with SH and DMcK to do the Webs count at Castle Island this morning. At first the count was just as you would expect, cold and tedious with only 14 species recorded, but as we were leaving things started to get interesting.
Dee spotted an Otter swimming up the river, it seemed to have something big in its mouth but it never stopped so we couldn't see what it was.

As we were watching the Otter two dog walkers went past and mentioned something about a Snow Goose.
Last month I was too busy to help with the Webs count so I didn't know that Steve and Dee had been told that further up the river a Snow Goose had been reported.
When they went to check it out they found a strange albino hybrid type bird, which wasn't a Snow Goose and looked more like a Shellduck.
After being told that it was definitely not a Snow Goose the dog walkers then mentioned its Egyptian friend, with this we headed off to investigate.

The area we went to was the stretch of river next to Stakeford Bridge beside the Cambois Rowing Club.
We went to the far left side were the most bird activity was and there on the shore was a single Canada Goose, the hybrid type and an Egyptian Goose.
The Canada and the Hybrid stayed whilst the Egyptian Goose was a lot more wary and moved off further into the water.
After talking to some of the locals we found that the hybrid type had been present for 7 weeks or so whilst the Egyptian had only appeared 3 weeks ago.
Whilst looking at the strange white bird, which we presumed was a hybrid; it became more and more obvious that it was an albino Egyptian Goose.
Steve got some photos of the pair, which I hope to upload soon if they will upload; i've been having problems with that recently.

At first I thought it was all straight forward and that the Egyptian Goose was another county tick but after looking at the evidence I am in two minds.
Is this the wild bird which has been present in the county and over the border in Durham throughtout the year ay Washington, Boldon, Derwent, Grindon and Whittle Dene?
After all it was acting the most wild and seemed to be chasing the albino at times.
Or was it released from captivity with the albino?

Steve text IF who came down to check them out after we went and he mentioned that it was missing its second set of primaries.
I suppose only time will tell if I can add the Egyptian Goose to my county list but for now I am more inclined to keep a clean list.

On the way back we checked a completely frozen WH where a Woodcock flew low over the new fire station building.
We flushed four snipe and two Mallard along the Horton Burn whilst checking for the Kingfisher which appeared briefly.


Stewart said...

There's no such thing as a 'clean' Egyptian Goose! Get it ticked and be damned...I bet you tick Pheasant every year? Only a tiny minority of them are wild bred, the rest are hoyed out of pens every summer for autumn shooting....

Alan Tilmouth said...

Sorry Phil but they both escaped from the allotments at the West Sleekburn side of the river. I know the daughter of the allotment owner who told me about the escapes 2-3 weeks back.

Stewart said...

Easy come, easy go eh!

Crammy Birder said...

I don't know why I'm so bothered it will probably be a breeding species in the county this time in ten years.

Vanellus said...

I first saw Egyptian Goose at Gibraltar Point NNR about 35 years ago; a pair with young. They are still not on my life list as I remain to be convinced that they were not escapes that had simply bred in the wild. The point about Pheasants is one I had not thought of before. It's a bit the same with Mute Swans, afterall there are not many wild birds that respond to too close an an approach by hissing at you.

By the way, how is the Uni list going?

ST said...

The 'Wannie Otter', most likley had an eel, you should be able to see them, most day's in the winter. Usually between the factory and the island
Most people who walk those paths, never see them.